Some Israelis "Extreme," but Hamas Terrorists Not?

October 14th, 2005 12:39 PM
Israeli-based Steven Erlanger's "news analysis" from Jerusalem in Friday's New York Times is purportedly about the Israel-Palestinian "road map" toward peace ("Mideast Knot: One Map, Many Paths"), but Erlanger devotes most of his space to sympathy for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Erlanger (who once referred to terrorist Yassir Arafat's "heroic history") does open by noting that Israelis have made complaints to Abbas about continuing Palestinian terrorism, but then gratuitously suggests Israel is being "self-serving" in making the complaints: " June, the Israelis say, [suspected suicide bombing organizer Hasan] Madhoun recruited a Gazan woman receiving burn treatment at Soroka hospital to blow it up as a suicide bomber. The woman was caught trying to leave Gaza, with a permit to visit the hospital and explosives attached to her underclothes. The story, confirmed by Palestinian officials, may seem self-serving for the Israelis to tell. But it is a serious factor in the loss of confidence that both Israel and the United States have in the ability of Mr. Abbas to show strong leadership in the face of threats to his own rule."

Erlanger gives this glowing report of Abbas: "Mr. Abbas -- intelligent, proud, committed to nonviolence -- is admired by Israel and the United States, and neither wants him to fail."

(Abbas also has doubts about the Holocaust and once posited a link between Nazism and Zionism -- but such details about the "intelligent" Abbas tend not to make the Times.)

Instead, the Times reserves its harsh adjectives for Israelis: "Mr. Sharon has been handcuffed, too, by a struggle with the more extreme elements of his own party, the right-wing Likud." Erlanger's story doesn't refer to the anti-Israeli terrorist group Hamas as extreme, only as "militants" and an "Islamist movement."

Erlanger also gives Abbas a break on adhering to the Palestinian Authority's promise to abandon terrorism (Erlanger calls it a "demand" from the U.S. and Israel), although it was part of the "road map." "It is also hard for Mr. Abbas to exercise the crackdown on Hamas that Israel and Washington demand. And it is impossible for him to be lectured to on Hamas once again, as he was at the last summit meeting in June, before being dismissed by Mr. Sharon with no significant concessions."

MediaCrity has more on Erlanger's analysis: "Note the use of the weasel words 'rough outline,' which Erlanger uses to excuse Palestinian refusal to implement the Road Map. Here is the Palestinian obligation in the first phase of the road map, long before final status negotiations:

'Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.'

"What's so 'rough' about that? The Road Map is very explicit as to what is required of the parties, and when."

For more examples of bias from the New York Times, go to TimesWatch.